Take a look at the software on your Mac. A subtle revolution is taking place for Mac users. The future for Mac applications and utilities is better than very good. It’s great.
Productivity, efficiency, ease of use, and security will combine with graphics and database capability built in to Mac OS X. Here’s my best list of the best new Mac software.
Obviously, no list of good Mac applications and utilities is complete without a nod to what Apple is doing in two important areas, both software related.
The first is Apple’s applications—from the iLife ‘08 suite to the midrange tools such as FinalCut Express, Logic Express, and Aperture, to the professional grade suites, FinalCut Studio, and Logic Studio.
Please tell me who publishes a better, more capable software value than what Apple is shipping these days.
The second is OS X itself. Let me be bold enough to say that Mac OS X really isn’t an operating system anymore, at least, not an OS in the traditional sense of Unix, MS-DOS, CP/M, the old classic Mac OS or even the first few versions of Windows.
Mac OS X Leopard is really more of a personal computing “environment,” for lack of a better word or description. Like an operating system, Leopard is where everything starts, but Apple provides so much in OS X Leopard that the end result transcends any major modern OS.
Developer tools are rich and varied, and the core basics Apple provides—Core Data, Core Audio, Core Video, Core Image, Core Animation, Core Fun/Cool/Hot, etc.—make OS applications a truly new breed, a new beast, which eclipses anything done on personal computers in the past.
Alright, those tools are under the hood, so to speak, out of sight of most Mac users. So, what do we, the users, get?
A new generation of Mac software that puts some Windows applications to shame, both for ease of use, but also for visual eye candy, and productivity and efficiency, much as Leopard does the same to Vista.
Here’s my list of my favorite best new Mac software, including a few honorable mentions.
Bento – FileMaker Pro, owned by Apple, finally brings us a database we, the average Mac user, can actually use.
Bento looks like it was made by Apple for iLife ‘08. It integrates all the basic Mac data from Address Book and more. It’s easy to use, easy to set up, very powerful.
Together – I cannot say enough about Together, a competitor to Yojimbo, both information managers for busy Mac users, both with a similar feature set, similarly priced.
Together gets my nod as it’s more elegantly laid out, easier to manage data backups, works well on multiple Macs, and has a more gentle learning curve.
Things – You can’t even buy this one. Yet. But you can use it. Things is to Mac users what Getting Things Done is to efficient, effective people. A way of life.
Things is a GTD task To-Do project manager utility for the rest of us. It’s both easy to set up and use, and yet can handle more complex projects with tasks, deadlines, dependencies, and so on.
CandyBar – Mac users have never been able to personalize and customize their Macs the same way as Windows users. Apple, it appears, doesn’t want Mac users to monkey around with look and feel, even though we want to.
CandyBar is the best customizing tool ever for Mac users on Leopard. The best. There are plenty of different icons, dock themes, and swapping them in and out could not be easier.
Don’t get me wrong. I love traditional Mac applications. I’m a long, long time user of Adobe’s Photoshop, Illustrator, and friends, and, yes, I own a Creative Suite CS3 (one of more versions than I have living relatives). I’m sure Photoshop Elements will be a great value when it comes out. Photoshop for $79. Not bad.
My business life revolves around Microsoft Office, and I look forward to Mac Office ‘08. Entourage is my life. But Microsoft and Adobe are not bleeding edge, not even leading edge. They’re traditionalists with good products.
I venture to say it’ll be another five years before either publisher begins to do what some Mac developers are doing already.
CSSEdit – A good example of clever Mac utilities that are here and now is MacRabbit’s CSSEdit. If you build or manage web sites, then XHTML and CSS is your life.
I defy anyone to find me a better constructed, more useable utility than CSSEdit. It’s ability to integrate CSS from live web sites for on-the-fly editing is unparalleled. Ron tell’s me that Panic’s Coda is close.
That’s not a complete list of what’s new and good on the Mac, but enough to get you started. I can’t finish without a word about some of the independent Mac software developers who crank out these new and innovative applications and utilities. They’re on the edge of bringing Mac users a new generation of flexible, powerful, simple complexity.
For example, once you use Default Folder, the first thing that comes to mind is why Apple doesn’t have the same features built in to Leopard?
As to creativity, is there a more creative application than ComicLife? Yes, it’s mostly a one trick pony, but it’s a great ride for anyone who has a desire to create colorful and professional “comic life” but doesn’t have any artistic talent.
Those are just a few of the very best generation of new Mac applications and utilities that fit into what I’m going to call the Time Machine genre. Time Machine in Leopard is elegant, simple to set up and use, highly complex underneath, and, just works. The complexity is out of the way, the usability is right up front where it belongs.
What new Mac software do you use that fits into that Next Generation model? Share and compare with other Mac360 readers in the Comments section below.